Here are a few of my favorites tips & tricks for making a road trip that is the adventure rather than just a road trip that just gets you to a destination.
1. Don’t set the stops in stone
A couple summers ago, I’m driving through Northern CA on some dirt road when I see a sign for Lava Beds National Monument — a place I’d never even heard of. If I had made plans for that night, I probably would have passed on by to “keep to the timeline,” instead I went cave exploring and found a motel down the road for the night. With apps like HotelsTonight and Priceline, you can find a place to stay pretty much as you pull into a city.
2. Bring a sleeping bag and perhaps a tent
To build off my first point, a great road trip is about sights and if you’re off the beaten path, being able to pull over in a national forest, cough up $5 and pop a tent for a few hours is a killer option for both budgeting and experiences. Conversely, while little towns can be great to stay in, they can also be dumps. Give yourself flexibilty, it beats roaches (seriously)!
3. When you do make it to your destination or a long stop, consider alternative accommodations
I don’t use AirBnB as often as I should, but when I’m going somewhere awesome, I love exploring the properties they, VRBO, and similar services have. Hilton is good for work stays, swimming pools and Disneyland but you won’t find a $65/night cabin overlooking a waterfall there.
4. Trucker stops all the way
To survive driving all day, you will have to stop a few times, but where? Pilot and similar truck-driver places tend to be open all night, well lit, fairly safe, heated, have some food option, tons of supplies and lots of (usually clean) restrooms. Beats the heck out of some tiny gas station.